Honey is an amazing substance – especially when you consider how it is made by bees. It is a complex mixture of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. Honey has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you're healthy).
Honey Production Process
It takes about over 50,000 bees traveling up to 50,000 miles and visiting up to 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey! Bees stores the nectar in their extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then the bees pass the nectar to another bee's mouth.
This process is repeated until the nectar becomes digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb where it becomes honey after the bees fan it with their wings to evaporate some of the liquid it contains. The bees then seal the honey comb with secretions from their abdomen. In this way honey can be stored almost indefinitely as it is sealed away from air and water.
Honey is infused with many chemicals from the different flowers bees visit which accounts for the extremely wide variation in color and taste of different honeys collected in different regions.
Health Benefits of Honey
Honey is excellent cough medicine, and research has proven that honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications.
Honey can treat wounds and was commonly used to prevent and treat wound infections until the advent of antibiotics. Today it is being used again more and more as research shows it can be an extremely potent and safe way to treat serious skin infections. One specific type of honey – Manuka Honey – is specifically used for creating wound and burn dressings.
Manuka honey is made from the flowers of the Manuka bush, and research have shown that Manuka honey is effective in combatting more than 200 clinical strains of bacteria, including anti-biotic resistance strains such as:
◦ MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
◦ MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)
◦ VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)
Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but Manuka honey contains and unknown unique factor that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.
Even so, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helps wounds and ulcers heal.
Honey Is Great for Your Scalp: Honey diluted with a bit of warm water can significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and itching.
Honey is a Great Energy Booster: Honey is a great energy booster before a workout, and this is particularly true for athletes.
Honey Can Safely Dramatically Reduce Allergy Symptoms: Local honey, which contains a wide variety of pollen from local plants, introduces a small amount of allergen into your system. This can act like an allergy shot and gradually condition your immune system to stop reacting to allergens.
Dosage is a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity.
One study on local honey and allergy showed that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:
◦ 60 percent reduction in symptoms
◦ Twice as many asymptomatic days
◦ 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms
◦ 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines
Honey can Combat Herpes
Honey helps fight herpes sores by:
• Drawing fluid away from the sores
• Suppresses microorganism growth
Honey may help fight cancer by limiting certain cancer cell proliferation, inducing cancer cell death and inhibiting tumor growth. It's been shown to lower the risk for cancer of the skin, cervix, colon, prostate and breast, among others.
Honey has been shown to have anxiety reducing, anti-depressant, anti-convulsant and anti-pain properties.
Using High Quality Honey is Important!
The antibacterial activity in some honey is 100 times more potent than in others, while processed refined honey will lack many of these beneficial properties altogether. Most honey found in your grocery store is probably highly processed.
The best honey is unprocessed, and a great source is locally produced raw honey purchased directly from a beekeeper, farmers markets, co-ops, and natural stores like Trader Joe's. When choosing honey, be sure it is raw, unfiltered, and 100% pure, from a trusted source.
Honey Should Be Consumed in Moderation
Honey is high in fructose. Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, which means it can be inappropriate for anyone with diabetes and too much can make pre-existing insulin resistance worse.